Q. I have been reading Matthew’s Gospel and came across this verse – “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” Matthew 10:32-33. Is this referring to people who deny Christ full stop or those who refuse to witness? In light of this how would this affect their salvation?
A. Those who truly deny Christ are by definition not saved. But we have to be careful in applying this verse to someone else because where our salvation is concerned, it’s what’s in our hearts, not what’s on our lips, that counts. Peter publicly denied knowing the Lord three times in a single night. But was that true in his heart? The fact that it wasn’t is indicated by the remorse he felt afterward (Matt. 26:75). The Lord knew Peter’s heart and accepted him back into the fold (John 21:17).
On a personal level, have you ever said “I hate you!” to someone you love? Which is true in your heart? See what I mean?
This verse applies to people who have never allowed Jesus into their heart and therefore haven’t been given the authority to become a child of God (John 1:12) no matter how much “good” they might have done. At the end of the age Jesus will deny knowing them.